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Solar Flares Observed with the Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI)Solar flares are impressive examples of explosive energy release in unconfined, magnetized plasma. It is generally believed that the flare energy is derived from the coronal magnetic field. However, we have not been able to establish the specific energy release mechanism(s) or the relative partitioning of the released energy between heating, particle acceleration (electrons and ions), and mass motions. NASA's RHESSI Mission was designed to study the acceleration and evolution of electrons and ions in flares by observing the X-ray and gamma-ray emissions these energetic particles produce. This is accomplished through the combination of high-resolution spectroscopy and spectroscopic imaging, including the first images of flares in gamma rays. RHESSI has observed over 12,000 solar flares since its launch on February 5, 2002. I will demonstrate how we use the RHESSI spectra to deduce physical properties of accelerated electrons and hot plasma in flares. Using images to estimate volumes, w e typically find that the total energy in accelerated electrons is comparable to that in the thermal plasma. I will also present flare observations that provide strong support for the presence of magnetic reconnection in a large-scale, vertical current sheet in the solar corona. RHESSI observations such as these are allowing us to probe more deeply into the physics of solar flares.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Holman, Gordon D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Subject Category
Solar Physics
Meeting Information
Meeting of the APS(Denver, CO)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.